Need Reader Input: Who Are The Top 10 Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops?

Sunday, June 3, AD 2012

 I would like some help in identifying the most active, passionate, orthodox American Catholic Bishops currently serving. It is a cultural thing that we seem to love rating everything- not a bad thing- and I have a personal interest in this topic because I want to offer my services to a Bishop who needs someone who gets the following Big Three Realities that I have been focusing on in my last three postings here at American Catholic.

 

1. The Obama Administration is threat #1 to the continuance of our Hierarchical Catholic Church- here in America and since we are a Superpower in worldly terms this could damage a big chunk of Christendom. I do not speak as an Obama-basher with Republican talking point tie-ins- I was a lifelong Democrat who only recently gave it up to become an Independent, not Republican. My realization about the Obama threat emerged slowly after being absorbed in a national Catholic Democrats listserve with some of the real heavyweights- like FOB (Friend of Barack) Vicki Kennedy. It was clear to me that Kennedy with her fellow travelers in Catholic universities, and liberal Catholic political organizations, have been intent on much much more than just getting more traction in American policies and legislation for a few political issues often neglected by the conservative-Right. There is blood in the water for the Church Hierarchy due to the notorious Minor Abuse Scandals. These prominent Catholic Dems seem intent on using whatever power they can muster to force changes in the Church to cut the Hierarchydown to size- replace the Teaching Authority with liberal Catholic college professors and liberal political activists who will “save” the Church from irrelevance among the youth. We have seen that President Obama has been systematically assisting in this process- not openly- but consider his choice of Joe Biden as VP with his pro-choice, pro-gay marriage beliefs, and Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary who is pushing contraceptives down everyone’s throats, and I suspect we’ll see that Justice Sotomayor is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage eventually. The threat to religious liberties will hit the Catholic Church Hierarchy first, with the contraceptives mandates and then gay marriage will turn the Catholic Church Catechism into Hate Literature and every orthodox Catholic into a bigot along the lines of the old school racists back in the 60’s. No one wants to be a racist- so I’m sure that Vicki Kennedy et al are counting on most American Catholics to simply abandon their Bishops’ leadership and embrace her brand of progressive Catholicism which is Obama-cool. So- me thinks the Bishops need a few folks around who see this danger and are willing to stand with the Bishops and the Catechism. I’m here to help.  Here’s a link to my piece on the Catholic Dems/Obama “conspiracy”-  http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/05/31/obama-working-willfully-to-undermine-hierarchical-catholic-church/

 

2. Having this information about the Obama-Catholic Dem elite battleplan is useful- but I am also interested in assisting a good Bishop at the parish level with practical steps- all perfectly legal- for assisting the process of cultivating a new breed of orthodox Catholic political leaders. Pope B teaches us to free ourselves from ideologies in his last encyclical- the social doctrine of the Church is the stuff we need more of in America- the reason we keep swinging wildly from Republican to Democrat in the races for political power is that at the gut level most people get that each Party has got some things right and some things wrong. There is no Party of God- even if right now the mainstream Democratic Party represents the greater threat to the Church/Christ- we are still talking about lesser evils. The Catholic social doctrine is about building civilizations of love- this is the positive vision that is the corrective of narrow ideologies which feed on anger for the most part. The way to bring Christ’s Way into the marketplace of ideas in American political thought and debate is for more fully informed and inspired Catholic voices to emerge and assume the responsibilities of leadership at every level of our society. There is so much that we could do in every parish and school-  here is my POA (Plan of Action) which I would love to bring into a parish in a diocese where the Bishop is aware and involved to guide the development- I’m not interested in being a lone ranger or riding against the wishes of the local Bishop.  Here’s the Plan-  http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/05/10/wanted-orthodox-catholic-political-leaders-time-to-get-serious/

 

3.  Finally, my long experience in the trenches of Catholic high schools has left me with many thoughts on how to inculcate a genuine Catholic identity which has a chance of being transmitted to our very distracted youth. I would love to be part of an orthodox Bishop’s team to help select passionately orthodox Catholic administrators/teachers/staff to be in place to give life witness, along with instructional guidance, to budding disciples of Christ. You can’t give what you don’t have- so if we want Catholic students to come out the other side in love, or more in love with Christ and His Church- then you don’t load up the schools with adults who are full of dissenting views from the Catechetical teachings of the Church. I’m not saying everyone has to be some kind of a stepford-wife cheerleader type of Catholic- we all have our personalities- but if you are an adult working in a Catholic school you should be someone who is thirsty to know what the Church teaches and why- especially if it pertains to your particular discipline or area of responsibility. I get into a lot more detail beyond just the staffing issue in my article below.  I am open to returning to the teaching field or entering new territory in administration under the right Bishop in a diocese that really wants to play it straight-up as a passionately Catholic institution -without being satisfied with a PR-level Catholic Identity which produces nice dog and pony shows for visiting bishops and parents- but scratch the surface and where is the love for the Church? If you fall in love with the Church you will just want to know more and more and to share more and more with the youth and everyone you meet- am I right?  Here’s the last link-  http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/04/16/a-vision-of-catholic-education-from-the-front-lines/

 

OK- if you are still with me- here is how you can help- write out up to 10 names(and email addresses if you have them!) of Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops here in America- with the name of their Diocese.  You can order them according to your own rating system. I want to follow the science here and the shortest distance between two points is a straight line- I want to begin a new mission in using whatever talents I possess for the sake of Christ and His Church- I have tried to use these talents to produce something helpful to preserve and protect the Hierarchical nature of our Catholic Church- If Christ didn’t desire a Hierarchy why bother with Apostles- He could have just had disciples with no leadership inherent in the Church- but He didn’t- evidence from Scripture, history and logic all persuaded me in my Truth Quest. I don’t want to just apply for jobs blind to the leadership in a given Diocese. Leadership matters, that’s why leaders get targeted all the time, and why assassinations are so unfortunately common throughout human history. I want a meaningful mission within the Church and short of that I will do whatever I can do to provide for my wife and four young children- this is my story and why I need our Reader’s Input. Brother (Sister) can you spare a moment and share what you know? God Bless you.

Continue reading...

22 Responses to Need Reader Input: Who Are The Top 10 Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops?

  • Perhaps we should remember the wise words of Abbé Henri Brémond, whose life (1865-1933) spanned the Jules Ferry laws of 1882 and 1886 laicising public education, the law of 1901 suppressing many religious orders and the law of 1905 on the separation of Church and State, which vested all church buildings and other property in the nation.

    “No law can affect those who believe, those who pray; prayer is silent, prayer offends no one, prayer attacks no one.” – [La prière est silencieuse, la prière n’offense personne, la prière n’agresse personne]

    His response to the Anti-Clericalism of his time were his essays, “Prière et Poésie”[ Prayer and Poetry] and “Introduction a la Philosophie de la Prière”[Introduction to the Philosophy of Prayer] His monumental work “Histoire litteraire du sentiment religieux en France depuis la fin des guerres de religion jusqu’a nos jours” [A Literary History of Religious Sentiment in France from the end of the Wars of Rekigion to our own day] published between 1913 and 1936 in 11 volumes, was based on his unrivalled knowledge of mystical writings and devotional works. His writings on poetry, symbolism and romanticism earned him election to the Académie française in 1923 and a eulogy from the French Symbolist poet, Paul Valéry.

    His influence was incalculable.

  • The current head of the USCCB, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of NY and his I-95 brother (my Archbishop) in Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles J Chaput. (Lori of Baltimore and Aquila of Denver deserve mention as well in my VERY short list.)

  • My only input is cautionary; the plan of action is a good idea, BUT I’d give it about a week before it’s taken over by the same folks who use “social justice” to promote abortion, theft, etc. At the absolute least, it would claim binding teachings where they don’t exist. (I recall one discussion I was having with another Catholic, who pulled the death penalty vs abortion thing– even offering a letter from the man who would become Pope saying there was a valid variety of views didn’t sway him.)

    I do love the idea of equipping people to find out what the Church teaches for themselves, and enthusiastically endorse the answer-religious-questions-kids-as/thirsty-for-theology thing. That would have made my youth a lot more interesting, and might have kept several friends from falling away from the Church. (it would also have meant I could find a babysitter from the Parish– but that’s another rant!)

    If there was a group for something like “Catholic Q&A- Last Wednesday Of The Month Snack and Chat” I’d do it. If I thought I could pull it off, I’d start one myself. (Wed because it’s the middle of the week; schedule it about 6pm. It would have to be sort of small to start with, and a computer with one of those books-on-CD collection EWTN sells would be wise; has soup to nuts of decrees, etc.)

    … Dang it, now I’ve got a post bubbling in my head for designing theology groups. Thank you.

  • Bishop Ronald Gainer of Lexington KY: not as high profile as Dolan etc, but methodically rebuilding an orthodox and dynamic diocese. Yesterday ordained 23 deacons: 3 transtional and 20 permanent.

  • Bruskewitz, Finn, Olmstead, Morlino, Aquila, Sample, Cordlione, Nienstadt, Slattery, Chaput

  • My only input is cautionary; the plan of action is a good idea, BUT I’d give it about a week before it’s taken over by the same folks who use “social justice” to promote abortion, theft, etc. At the absolute least, it would claim binding teachings where they don’t exist.

    I would go a step further Foxfier – or backward actually. I think the other side has already been doing this for many decades. The chanceries and USCCB were chock full dissenting activists with a socialist agenda who were either supported or tolerated by their bishop. I would venture to guess that even with ascension of a large number of orthodox bishops, there are still a large number of these folks in important and influential positions. Even when an orthodox bishop takes over a troubled see, he doesn’t do a housecleaning so to speak. He pushes his agenda of reform with the people he has and tries to lead the chancery operatives to fulfill his mission. The bishops have to lead, but that doesn’t mean all will follow – and many of those people still have power and influence enough to do damage.

  • Sounds good, Tim. I would echo both MichaelP71’s and Jim’s lists, adding only three more solid bishops with whom I’ve had contact: 1) Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, CA (and formerly of Baker, Oregon); 2) Bishop Kevin Vann of Ft. Worth, TX; and 3) Arch-bishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta. There are undoubtedly many other good, solid bishops and auxiliaries around in the US, but they simply don’t have as high of a public profile as do these aforementioned bishops.

  • Oops! One glaring omission did just come to mind (how could we forget?) Cardinal George of Chicago, of course!

  • First of all I think Masculinity has been beat down passive aggressively both in the American Church as well as society, so if we are not willing to reject bad laws and smash the Serpents head to mush than we are bound to lose with the communist attitudes of Obama and other democratic leaders.

  • The dioceses of Wilmington Delaware seam to be getting somewhat more Orthodox but still need improving and the general public of Delaware seems very secular and the cops tend to act like gangsters in their attitudes.

  • By lose I meant lose temporarily.

  • Possibly the most important philosophical law is that because God is all knowing, all powerful, and all good we should take what he tells us seriously rather than throwing his words around like protestants who use his words to justify whatever they fancy.

  • If worst comes to worst there is just war but it would be much better if it did not have to come down to that.

  • One. I’m curious, why did it have to come to your being a Democrat “insider” before you realized your choice of political party clashed with your Catholic religion? I knew it for me when the Democrat Party officially supported and acted to make abortion-on-demand the law-of-the-land.

    Two. When are people like you going to start showing some “love” your talking about to those of us who have been battling people you have been electing to keep abortion-on-demand the law-of-the-land? And, now, thanks to Catholics like you, we have to fight to keep marriage the institution it has always been since God enacted it at the beginning of man-kind. And thanks to the 54% of Catholics like you, the U.S. bishops (equally responsible for what has continued for almost 4 decades) have to sue the President and his Administration they helped put in office just to keep our First Amendment Rights. How about showing some love to Catholics like me for realizing straight on that any organization that supports and defends the murder of innocent human beings, especially infants in the protection of their mother’s womb, could never be serious about “caring for others,” especially the “little guy?”

    Three. How about finding out why almost all the U.S. bishops adopted Cardinal Bernardin’s proposal to change the definition of “prolife,” a word coined by prolifers to counter the pro-aborts calling themselves “pro-choice?” And then, contacting those bishops still alive who voted against that change, to get their recommendations on who should be on that list of bishops you want to put together. While doing that, you ought to read the 1989 favorable biography called “Cardinal Bernardin – Easing conflicts -and battling for the soul of American Catholicism” by the cardinal’s long time friend (30 years) Eugene Kennedy. You’ll learn that that name change was a lot more political than it was spiritual. This is a quote of Bernardin’s motivation for expanding the definition to include prudential judgment issues so-call “social justice.” Page 243,244: “Not only would this move gain greater support from Catholics and others but it would keep the prolife movement from falling completely under the control of the right wing conservatives who were becoming it dominant sponsors.” How about that?! I don’t know where in the Catechism of the Catholic Church the “good” cardinal found that some how being a “right wing conservative” was evil. Maybe you know where that is?

    Anyway – how about showing some “love” for the millions of us who have removed ourselves from the sin of being in the Democrat Party, the main organization responsible for denying the right to life of God’s greatest creation – a human right by the way; and maybe perhaps an apology as well for making people like us have to fight people like you for so long?

  • Stilbelieve:

    Hold on, friend. There’s a parable about that. “Take what is yours, and go your way: I will also give to this last even as to you.” (Mt 20:14)

  • Stilbelieve:

    I’m with you!

    Nd, those people need to stop employing presumed moral superiority to advance evil and to start supporting Church teachings.

  • My own Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo should be on that list. He is the bishop who conducted the recent investigation of the women religious. He is an outstanding and holy and orthodox bishop, and I am shocked, frankly, that he hasn’t been picked in the last few years to lead a higher-profile diocese. The fact that he was chosen to lead the investigation of the women religious indicates that he is at least on someone’s radar in the Vatican.

    Were it not for the fact that Bishop Blair was the Bishop of Toledo, I doubt I would have moved my family to this part of Ohio almost 7 years ago.

  • @Escolonn

    “Hold on, friend. There’s a parable about that. ‘Take what is yours, and go your way: I will also give to this last even as to you.’ (Mt 20:14)” The text in bible has the last sentence of 20:14 reading: “What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?”

    First of all, I’m not looking for “reward.” I’m looking for evidence that this author has obtained wisdom from his experience to be of help to any bishop. The question was raised in my mind soon into reading his article. He says this in the 4th sentence:
    “I do not speak as an Obama-basher with Republican talking point tie-ins- I was a lifelong Democrat who only recently gave it up to become an Independent, not Republican.”

    Talking in a dismissive way about the only major organization that has been trying to save the babies, protect our country militarily and economically, fight for our right to pick our own doctors and make our own decisions on our medical care, defend marriage as God created it, and now have to save our First Amendment Rights to freedom of religion isn’t being a “Obama-baser” using “Republican talking point tie-ins.” It’s being an American who has “eyes to see and ears to here.”

    Second, you would think that someone who contributed with their decision-making and votes all this time to prolonging the evil of abortion-on-demand remaining the law-of-the-land, and to these newer attacks on our safety and freedoms, would be a little more contrite and humble towards those who were wise enough to see the sin of remaining in the Democrat Party much sooner in their lives then he did.

    Third, I think the verse you chose is a parable better suited for the rights of ownership to do with one’s property as one chooses and pay the wages as agreed. Verse 15 completes that thought saying: “[Or] am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?”

  • Jay, it just so happens that my own bishop, Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Ill. is assisting with that investigation as well. He too is known for his orthodoxy and has been on the Vatican-watchers’ radar for some time, so he probably won’t be here forever!

  • Stillbelieve- I can defend my previous Democratic party membership on the grounds that I was quite active as a pro-life candidate and leader in Dems for Life- the fact is that until the 80’s the Dems were more pro-life than the Repubs- I was a Democrat long before I was Catholic- being drawn into politics at the age of 13 by the first Jimmy Carter campaign- and then basically became a believing secular liberal in my 20’s. My introduction and conversion to Catholicism came as I neared 30- in becoming Catholic I gave up previous beliefs on abortion et al- but there has always been two thoughts in my mind- first- the Republican establishment has always been like shifting sand on the issue of abortion since Reagan – lukewarm belief is never attractive as Jesus indicated in Revelation- and second- there has long been the hope that Catholic pro-life Democrats could lead the charge within the Democratic party to restore traditional moral beliefs on social issues- I took up that challenge since I figured I was well-placed as a lifelong Dem who became a Catholic convert- but identified more or less along the FDR-Democratic coalition lines- recall that American Catholics as a community tended the Democratic party way before social issues and the sexual revolution began destroying the Dems from within. Reagan was an FDR Democrat but said that the party moved away from him not the other way around.

    So- in any case- I never publicly supported any pro-choice candidates- and typically voted for third party/populist no-bodies to get around my conscience- and our hierarchy instructed us that we could not vote for a candidate because of his/her pro-choice position on abortion- but it was left open to conscience if there were other compelling reasons to vote for someone who was unfortunately pro-choice- since we are not to be single-issue voters. So- if one supposed that voting for a Republican candidate would bring on potentially nation-ending war or economic ruin and thus render the legal abortion question (in effect) moot in such an environment since no movement focused on a social issue would gain any traction during crisis times- well that would be a paradigm of thought whereupon someone with a Catholic conscience may have voted for a Democrat in some paticular national office like president.

    My own experience with being exposed to the really influential Catholic Democrats was one where I tried my best to evangelize for the orthodox teachings of the Church- to follow the Magisterium and the Bishops on all fronts and not to continue in a heterodox direction- but alas I was confronted by the truly powerful forces that drive those who have actual weight in Democratic party power politics these days- and I was asked to depart from my place of opinion sharing- and at that stage I openly left the Party and my role as a leader for florida Dems for Life- and became a NPA- non-party-affiliation- as Archbishop Chaput did according to what I read in his great book- Render Unto Caesar. So- stillbelieve- I don’t know what to apologize to you about- I think my personal history explains why I chose the paths I took- if the Church had clearly indicated that working from within the Democratic party to try to reform the party on social issues was an immoral choice- then I would have abandoned the effort years ago- I have given up on that front- but I have many good Catholic and Christian friends who are still battling from within and taking the abuse from the dominant sexual revolutionaries – I’m not of a mind to join you in heaping more abuse their way- but if this is how you interpret WWJD in your time on stage blogging then it is something that Jesus Christ will have to determine at the time of our personal judgments- and I look forward to my time with Him so that I can see where I missed His cues and promptings, or just was blind- so that I can apologize to anyone or any group of persons that I did wrong by. I am trying to “live clean” and I have been trying to follow the orthodox directives from Christ’s Church- my wish now is that the American Bishops will now make perfectly clear to all of us that taking public positions opposed to granting the right to life for the unborn, and protecting traditional marriage definitions, and respecting religious liberties- all make any candidate unfit for any Catholic to vote for or support in any capacity- and political leaders who call themselves Catholics who vote for any of the Big Three will have to forego reception of Holy Communion due to the scandal they are producing among law-abiding American citizens. That, I think, would clear up any confusion about the morality of our political choices- given the unusual extremity of our times. I still hope to be of service to our Church and to serve a strong Bishop and take guidance from him- but if you are correct and the Holy Spirit agrees then I will accept another role in my life’s work- at the end of the day I just want to be one of those ‘unprofitable servants’ in the eyes of the Lord- if digging ditches is my true talent then so be it- I will carry a shovel for Christ- that’s my heart-that is something I can know even if many who know little about me doubt it- those in my home know me and from them I draw the human consolation that helps keep one’s spirit from being taken away by the naysayers always to be found.

  • It is important to realise that, for professional politicians, party labels are largely a sham.

    In any democracy, they inevitably group themselves into two parties (or coalitions), the friends of corruption and the sowers of sedition; those who seek to profit from existing abuses and those who seek to profit from the disaffection those abuses naturally produce.

    The policies either faction espouses, primarily to attract funding, but also as a sop to the rabble, is a matter of chance and circumstance.

  • I don’t have much experience with bishops, but I would suggest two: Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, CO and Archbishop Charles Chaput, currently Archbishop of Philadelphia (formerly of Denver, CO). Both have been a strong voice for authentic Catholic teaching and activism.

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

Monday, April 19, AD 2010

As I’m a week and a half from law school exams, I don’t have the time to do this justice but there’s an important case involving a group I’m involved in at law school that was argued in front of the Supreme Court today. In sum, the school banned the CLS (Christian Legal Society) because it wanted the Christian Legal Society members to be…well, Christians. The school defends itself on the idea that allowing any discrimination is intolerable and would open a slippery slope to racist groups (no, seriously-read the article and the questions of Sotomayor & Stevens. Glad that Obama appointment is doing well for Christians).

So pray for a just result that will protect the rights of Christians to assemble.

Continue reading...

12 Responses to Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

  • Well, if the article you linked was right, no, it is not about whether or not they are to be Christian. You could allow gays to join and still be Christian. There are Christian gays (as TAC should know). If the point is no gay can join, I would argue such group was antithetical to Christianity.

  • Of course, I am sure you will say it is not about allowing gays to join — but yet, I know many “Christians” who say to celibate Christian gays they are “advocating a lifestyle” by pointing out their orientation.

  • While I’m certainly sympathetic with the CLS (and was an active member when I attended law school several decades ago), I’m not sure I agree with its legal theory in this case. What I want to know is whether or how its freedom to associate is actually impaired by failing to secure “official” status. Does a failure to secure school financing and benefits actually mean it is “banned”? If so, is its practical ability to meet encumbered?
    I can appreciate the state’s interest in being unwilling to accord its impramatur upon groups that discriminate based on religion, race, etc., even if the application of such a limitiation to a bona fide religious group does seem ridiculous, but laws/rules are always imperfectly drafted, either underinclusive, overinclusive, or both. This one appears overinclusive (and is probably both), but my reaction is that this imperfection does not render it constitutionally infirm without a showing of First Amendment harm. This stands in contrast to laws granting churches an exception from general religious discrimination prohibitions, which quite possibly are constitutionally required precisely because a law that would prevent a church from favoring its own adherents for various church positions would presumably encumber the church from freely exercising its religion. I’m just not sure that disqualifying the CLS from receiving school financing and benefits is quite the same thing.

    All that said, I certainly could be wrong and fully expect to be flamed with enthusiasm.

  • That was my first question as well, Mike.

  • Well I helped found the Christian Legal Society at the University of Illinois Law School back at the dawn of time when I was a law student. Without official recognition we wouldn’t have been able to hold our meetings in classrooms, put up notices of our meetings on law school bulletin boards or receive funding from the Student Organization Resource Fund. I think the lack of these would have constituted a penalty to the group. I think the best tactic however is to argue that the Christian Legal Society is being singled out for enforcement of these regulations.

    Here is a transcript of the oral argument:
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/08-1371.pdf

  • One analysis of this case claimed that if the court found against the CLS, then by the same reasoning a state-supported school could not give official sanction to a gay-rights group that excluded people opposed to the gay-rights agenda. So if the CLS loses, maybe its members could sign up en masse for the gay-rights club, bringing their friends along with them. Discussion on college campuses would probably not become more civil, but it would be more varied and interesting.

  • The same thing is true today as it was for Don (however many years ago that was. I won’t inquire 😉 ) Other groups would have a significantly easier time having groups then would Christians. I think this is where Alito’s questioning in the argument was going-groups like for gay advocacy are not going to have a problem while Christian or other religious groups will not be permitted, allowing those other groups to have state-sponsored advantages over the Christian groups. That’s where I think that’s where the constitutional question comes in.

    I would love to make that argument stronger, but unfortunately I won’t be tested on CLS v. Martinez in the next two weeks.

    Henry:

    The article makes it perfectly clear that CLS was banning those who are practicing homosexuals, not homosexuals trying to live out a Christian life. There is no evidence that CLS discriminated against Christians with a homosexual orientation in this case or in general. While I’m sure some Christians have mistreated our brothers, I see no basis why you should accuse CLS of this behavior unless you have some evidence other than the fact that CLS tends to contain conservatives and therefore fall under your presumption of evil?

    PM:

    That’s not a bad idea.

  • “One analysis of this case claimed that if the court found against the CLS, then by the same reasoning a state-supported school could not give official sanction to a gay-rights group that excluded people opposed to the gay-rights agenda. So if the CLS loses, maybe its members could sign up en masse for the gay-rights club, bringing their friends along with them. Discussion on college campuses would probably not become more civil, but it would be more varied and interesting.”

    Having read the legal briefings for this case, this is more or less what’s at stake. Pure and simple the administration of Hastings College (the school where this took place) is saying that this will indeed be the case – the only problem is, it seems to only be enforced in the case of the Christian group. We’ll see how this unfolds…

  • I know many “Christians” who say to celibate Christian gays they are “advocating a lifestyle” by pointing out their orientation.

    Why are they pointing it out, Henry?

  • “It is so weird to require the campus Republican Club to admit Democrats, not just to membership, but to officership,” Justice Antonin Scalia said.

    Funny that he mentions that. When I was in law school, the president of the Federalist Society was a Democrat. The president of CLS was suspected by everyone to be a closeted homosexual.

    Interesting case but I don’t know if it’ll make any practical difference. I didn’t join CLS because it was too Protestant for my comfort. I don’t see practicing homosexuals joining, much less get voted into leadership positions.

  • Michael Denton:

    See Art Deco.

  • HK:

    I have a feeling that the two of you are disagreeing on what is meant by “pointing” with Deco taking to pointing as something along the lines of “I’m gay and you need to accommodate that” (think of the “coming out” promotions which obviously connote acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle) as opposed to acknowledging a struggle with sin which you’re thinking of. I’ll let the two of you discuss that if you wish.

    Of course, this is a digression and has nothing to do with the idea that Colleges must force Christian groups to accept practicing homosexuals (i.e. non-celibate) in order to get official status.

The Red Mass and Cardinal DiNardos Pro-Life Homily

Monday, October 5, AD 2009

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, was the chief celebrant at the annual Red Mass Cardinal DiNardo Sotomayoryesterday at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle.

The Red Mass is celebrated annually at the Washington, D.C. Cathedral and hosted by the John Carroll Society, a group of Washington area legal professionals.  The Mass is normally for for judges, attorneys, law school professors, students, and government officials.  The Mass requests guidance from the Holy Ghost for all who seek justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on what Catholics believe is the God-given power and responsibility of all in the legal profession.

The Red Mass is so-called from the red vestments traditionally worn in symbolism of the tongues of fire that descended on the Apostles.  The most significant difference between the Red Mass and a traditional Mass is that the focuses of prayer and blessings concentrate on the leadership roles of those present.  Guidance from the Holy Ghost is asked to be bestowed on the congregants. Other blessings that are commonly requested to prevail in the minds, offices, and court rooms are Divine strength, wisdom, truth, and justice.

Continue reading...

Supreme Court Justices and Religion

Wednesday, June 10, AD 2009

To ask some questions is to answer them, and via Commonweal, I see that UCLA history professor emeritus Joyce Appleby has penned a lovely exercise in anti-Catholicism entitled, Should Catholic Justices Recuse Selves On Certain Cases?. Here is an excerpt:

But because of the Catholic Church’s active opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and capital punishment, it raises serious questions about the freedom of Catholic justices to judge these issues. Perhaps the time has come to ask them to recuse themselves when cases come before their court on which their church has taken positions binding on its communicants…

…Recusal sounds like a radical measure, but we require judges to withdraw from deliberations whenever a personal interest is involved. Surely ingrained convictions exert more power on judgment than mere financial gain. Many will counter that views on abortion, same-sex marriage, and the death penalty are profound moral commitments, not political opinions. Yet who will argue that religious beliefs and the authority of the Catholic Church will have no bearing on the justices when presented with cases touching these powerful concerns?

Continue reading...

46 Responses to Supreme Court Justices and Religion

  • Well, didn’t Scalia say the Catholic judges who are against the death penalty should recluse themselves? hmmm….

  • Pingback: First Thoughts — A First Things Blog
  • Well, John Henry, as you rightly point out, there is a worldview of all the judges.

    What I find interesting is “justice” is not justice in the natural law sense. That is, having American positive laws in conformity with the natural and eternal laws. Alexander Hamilton put it this way: “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

    However, the American sense of “justice” is to uphold the letter of the Constitution and legal precedence. This can pose quite a dilemma. If I’m a Catholic sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court, hypothetically dealing with a case prior to the 1860s regarding slavery, I would be obliged to rule to uphold what is, in fact, not just at all. My very obligation — according to “originalism, as I understand it — would be to to rule in such a way that contradicts the very title of “Justice.”

    Yet, it seems, to lax strict guidelines and open the door to some sort of “judicial autonomy” easily leads to what we call legislating from the bench.

    I’m not sure what the solution should be. Constitutional law is a matter where I’m simply agnostic and hesitant about most positions. To be sure, I do think the comments by Scalia and Thomas–no matter political orientation, or their purposes–are downright scandalous. The my “faith has nothing to do with my rulings” statements though situationally different than legislators reaffirms the separation of faith and life, religion and politics — all of which, I don’t support.

  • “He said they should resign.”

    He’s right. Just according to Catholic teaching. Shouldn’t be automatically discarded by a Catholic judge.

  • Eric

    I think as to Pre- Civil War Judges that were anto Slavery they would be hard pressed to ban slavery since theire power and authority came from an agreement among the States that involved the Slavery issue. It was part of the pact as it were.

    THere has been some talk in recent threads about Scalia and Thomas statements and if they are scandaleous. I really don’t think they are. However I wish they would have fleshed out what they mean more.

    I suggest this article that also has a helpful comment by Rick Garnett as to being what a Catholic Judge is

    http://www.firstthings.com/on_the_square_entry.php?year=2007&month=10&title_link=antonin-scalia-not-a-catholic-

    That article also shows that Scalia had other thoughts that rarely get mentioned as to that statement

    “If he were not a textualist and an originalist, if he thought he ought to rely on substantive moral notions not found in the text, then, Scalia said, his Catholic faith would make a large difference in how he judges cases. Similarly, if he had to judge common-law cases¯cases that do not involve texts enacted by a legislature but only judge-made law, cases of the kind that sometimes come before state courts but rarely come before federal courts¯things would likewise be different. In making common-law decisions, a judge has to make normative judgments about which laws are best, and so the judge’s values are properly in play. So, too, in the voting booth. Indeed, when the question switches from which laws we actually have to which laws we ought to have, then a person properly relies on moral values, whether they be Catholic or anything else.”

    I think this is very correct and there is nothing really un Catholic about that.

    I suppose my question is why are Judges (Catholic or otherwise) criticized for not thinking they have a grant of authority to do X

    FOr instance if we take that standard then why do we not criticize a Pro-Life President for not sending out his Federal Marshals and closing down all the abortion Clinics by Fiat. The reason we don’t is because we know that would be a UnConst power grab. Society can not function in such an environment.

  • One other thought on Sclaia Statements as to State execution. THe media generally does a bad job of covering religious issues. The only thing they do worse is covering Supreme COurt matters and the people on the Court

    From a person that was there:
    I would note one (perhaps self-evident) thing in clarification of the Scalia
    argument as it has been described in this thread: Scalia’s view that a
    Supreme Court Justice should resign if he or she believes the death penalty
    is immoral is dependent on the further assumption, manifest in his speech,
    that a Justice does not (or ought not) bring personal or contemporary moral
    judgment to bear in deciding death cases or in establishing death-penalty
    doctrine: “[T]he Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living, but
    dead; or as I prefer to call it, enduring.” “Bear in mind that I don’t make
    up new constitutional rules.”

    Further from Rick Garnett that was also there

    As I heard him, Justice Scalia was careful to establish, as a premise to his
    “have to resign” conclusion, that his position as a Justice involves him to
    a sufficient degree in the application of the death penalty to make him
    complicit in the wrong done. That is, I don’t think he was suggesting that
    his disagreement, standing alone, required him to resign, but rather, that
    (a) he has a moral obligation not to “cooperate” with evil (assuming that
    the application of the death penalty is, in fact, illicit); and (b)
    participating in death cases constitutes “cooperation” with evil. For my own
    part, it is not clear that a Supreme Court Justice who, say, fails to vote
    to deny a stay of execution, or fails to vote in support of a habeas
    petition brought by a capital defendant is, in fact, “cooperating” with the
    (assumed) evil of the death penalty.

  • What is bizarre about this is its literal unconstitutionality. Article VI, Section 3:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    So under the guise of separation of church and state, something never mentioned in the constitution ironically, we are forced to ignore the actual words of the constitution.

  • For those interested I find the transcript of Scalia’s remarks so you see them in the full context

    http://pewforum.org/deathpenalty/resources/transcript3.php

  • jh,

    That was precisely my point. I was arguing that, to begin with, we aren’t even starting with a natural law conception of Justice. It is fundamentally a social contract theory, which itself is the arbiter of what is right and wrong in a legal sense. In other words, I think the lack of natural law orientation profoundly obscures what is true justice and the essence of law.

    My other concern is being complicit. Regardless of judicial philosophy, I would not rule to uphold slavery as the law of the land because it isn’t true justice. I simply cannot imagine allowing such an evil to perpetuate because of such commitment to a particular judicial philosophy, especially, if hypothetically, it was a 4-4 and I was the “swing vote.” I would not vote to uphold it when I know, apart what may be philosophically ideal, when I knew that I could stop an evil immediately. In other words, I find it problematic that our judicial system is more concerned about the letter of the constitution and legal precedence than actual justice.

    I understand why we currently operate like this. There are alternate approaches that I wouldn’t say any better, e.g. the approach that got us Roe v. Wade.

    Even still, I am not satisfied or convinced by Scalias’ argument. I think so far, at least, it may be the do-the-least-harm approach and our best weapon against getting results like Roe, or even worse, Casey with its infamous “liberty clause.”

    If Catholics are right about law, about the nature of law, then the American emphasis on upholding whatever is the positive law on the books as long as its conformity with the framework of the Constitution is problematic, in my view, that is building a system on a false premise of law and justice.

    Thus, I think we should develop a different judicial philosophy. I wish I knew what it was. But with the status quo, I can’t say I am satisfied.

  • “I find it problematic that our judicial system is more concerned about the letter of the constitution and legal precedence than actual justice.”

    Perhaps, I should say more committed to…or more interested in, at the expense of natural law thinking.

    I don’t think Catholics should throw natural law under the bus for positive law. The West profoundly misunderstands law and I wish we currently were operating through some different, more acceptable (in my view) judicial apparatus but we aren’t…

    I suppose the problem is finding a way that one does not get into the “living Constitution theory,” as it is currently promulgated.

  • In other words, I find it problematic that our judicial system is more concerned about the letter of the constitution and legal precedence than actual justice.

    I understand why we currently operate like this. There are alternate approaches that I wouldn’t say any better, e.g. the approach that got us Roe v. Wade.

    I hate to say it, but your approach largely is the approach used in Roe v. Wade, only from a different perspective. The judges in that case thought abortion was a manifest right, the Constitution be damned, and so essentially made a decision based on their conception of what was wrong or right. Your approach is similar, only you’re arguing that slavery is morally wrong. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t get us very far if 5 Justices happen to disagree with you. So either we follow the written text of the Constitution or we follow the dictates of our conscience (hopefully the two are not in contradiction). 99% of the time the latter approach is the right one, but not when adjudicating in a Court of Law.

  • Eric

    As to Slavery the natural law sometimes must make an accomdation with a evil to help mitigate that evil. It should be noted that as a part fo this aggreement the International Slave Trade as to the USA was abolished. Again back then the theory was to strangle it out and even SOutherners thought it would die out of existance. The problem was people went back on the deal when they wanted it expanded.

    So I think Catholic Justices had no moral problem on the whole. Also lets be real here. Can you imagine if say in 1850 the Supreme COurt would have declared Slavery illegal. Well they would have just been ignored and thus set a dangerpus precedent

    I have no objection to a natural law jurisprudence. But again what is that? I can recall when Justice Kennedy came and taught my Const Law class. He asked a questions about rights and the rights listed in the Bill of Rights

    He said why don’t we have a

    Right to a Job
    A right to Health Care
    etc etc etc

    In fact this is where exactly many people that advocate a Natural Law Jurisprudence from the more Catholic left want to go. That is look at that rights that in the SOcial Compendium and have judges declare it.

    Kennedy pointed out the obvious. If these were “rights” on par with lets say the Freedom of Assembly there would be chaos.The Chaos he was talking about dealt with how in the world would Judges be able to deal with it and frame that right. You would in effect have a mini legislature in the Judicial branch and I suppose Law Clerks with no expertise in all these issues involved in all this.

    From a personal veiwpoint looking at How Federal Judges have run the East Baton Rouge Parish School system for 25 years while it was under the desegration decree I find trheir management skills quite lacking

    I can’t imagine what they would do to the Health system as Federal Judges come in and manage them in order that a “right to Health Care” could be had

  • Paul,

    Well, perhaps I’m liberal after all. Though, in some respect, I am not “reading” stuff in the Constitution that clearly isn’t there and pretending that the text of the Constitution is in alignment with my position.

    I’ll put it this way. In terms of maintaining social order and political stability, the “originalist” position is best, in that, it does the least amount of harm. In the end, I still think it’s flawed and there has to be some ways to address its flaws.

  • Eric

    I would also say as to Natural Law thinking that this could occur in the legislative branch. I am also still open to it in the Judicial branch.

    You might really enjoy this one hour podcast that Arkes had at the Making Men Moral COnference as he explains his attempts to get his Friend Scalia and others to recognize they can use the Natural Law.

    Scroll down to “Closing Luncheon with remarks by Hadly Arkes”

    http://www.uu.edu/events/makingmenmoral/schedule.cfm

    That speech as well as a few others really address what you are talking about especially Arkes

  • “As to Slavery the natural law sometimes must make an accomdation with a evil to help mitigate that evil.”

    The principle of the Double Effect only works if the evil you are tolerating is not objectively evil in and of itself. The argument is basically proportionalist aka. utilitarian aka. consequentialist.

    “So I think Catholic Justices had no moral problem on the whole. Also lets be real here. Can you imagine if say in 1850 the Supreme Court would have declared Slavery illegal. Well they would have just been ignored and thus set a dangerpus precedent”

    That’s consequentialist reasoning. It is like the sin of omission, or not doing what is right because of the consequences that it would render. I’m afraid to say it strikes me like saying that overturning Roe v. Wade would cause a political backlash and cultural division even worse than it is now, thus, one should act to bring change slowly. It is the argument of the “white moderates” who wished to (allegedly) integrate blacks into society over time, as the culture slowly changed.

    The argument is basically pragmatist and only further convinces me that the machinery of our government places Catholics, particularly in this regard, in a dangerous place. You either cooperate with the machine and lose your ethics, or you “legislate from the bench” and cause tyranny.

    And again, I don’t think anyone has seen a natural law jurisprudence laid out because it’s in its early stages. However, I think the debate should be had.

  • Eric

    I don’t think the situation that lets say anti Slavery Catholic Judges found themselves in was at all consequentalist. Again part of the deal was in order for this nation to be formed some of the evils of Slavery would have to be minimized. Therefore the natural law made a accomdation with a evil to minimize it. What made the whole deal go off the rails was the South basically demanding a Right to Nationwide Slave code which was demanded by the SOuthern Democrats at their Dem Convention in Charleston.

    Lets use another example. That is the sex business. The Church has recognized that such things as Prostitution and brothals are evil and bad. Yet the Church has reconzied that such things as regulation of it to mimizew it evils (like red light districts) and such is ok in many regards.

    One can make a arguement as to abortion that a process of chipping away at it slowly and strangling it to death (like Slavery) is the way to go. If there is a all or nothing approach there would never be proress on the issue.

    Also in the end the Court again has no power to tax and really no way to enforce it orders. It must rely on its good name. At times they cash it in. Look at Brown vs the Bopard of Education. But if the COurt was issuing Society changing ruling like Brown every year then I predict they would be ignored. That is for instance the Executive Branch would disover Lincoln’s musings that he had a right to interpret the Const kust like the Court.

    This is one reason wehy for the most part the Court is slow in making dramtic changes

  • “Therefore the natural law made a accomdation with a evil to minimize it.”

    I understand that people made compromises that seemed unavoidable, e.g. compromises like we make on abortion to get as much restriction as possible. However, the natural law does not accommodate evil–it is the moral law of God and the standard of perfect justice. So, the language you’re using is problematic in terms of moral theology, hence I keep arguing against it.

    “Yet the Church has reconzied that such things as regulation of it to mimizew it evils (like red light districts) and such is ok in many regards.”

    Well, I think the Church would say restrict it as much as possible with the intention of ultimately obliterating. I’m not sure the Church would deem such immoral activity confined to a place as “ok in many regards.” As far as I know, there is no constitutional right to prostitution.

    “One can make a arguement as to abortion that a process of chipping away at it slowly and strangling it to death (like Slavery) is the way to go. If there is a all or nothing approach there would never be proress on the issue.”

    In regard to abortion, there is this interesting phenomenon. People who are conservative tend to oppose radical changes while liberals want changes to bring about immediate justice. You get a conservative Catholic and they’ll tell you let’s outlaw abortion. You get a more liberal Catholic, they’ll say we should do it gradually and get a greater social consensus. On the issue of abortion, the two sides flip — for the most part.

    I think the reason we’re not pulling an all or nothing on abortion, as was the case with slavery, is because the machinery of government has us in a tight spot. My only problem with the “slow” process is that meanwhile a great injustice casually continues and with abortion, it’s going at a rate of 4,000 a day and I’m not sure if we have the luxury of time insofar as we aren’t acting so imprudently as to compromise the cause and a swift as possible triumph.

    And Brown vs. Board of Education is a prime example. I think the problem here is I’m emphasizing achieving true justice because doing the good is a moral obligation that should not be considered solely based on the consequences, as that would be a departure from natural law moral ethics; whereas, you are emphasizing the need for stability and keeping social order lest the Court lose its authority and the actual good be lost to the jaws of defeat due to a swift backlash due to a wreckless dash for a short victory.

    My problem is, seeing my strident commitment to keeping natural moral ethics, is that, if in such a system, there is great tension for a Catholic sense of morality, I feel inclined to try to develop a judicial philosophy where Catholic ethics don’t conflict so readily with the process. That’s pretty much my whole deal with your approach. It might be the best we’ve got right now, but I can’t settle with it.

    I must depart for now. Thanks for the discussion…

  • Ms. Appleby is effectively arguing for the recusal of any save the most carefully-vetted agnostics from service as a judge.

    By what feat of special pleading would an Episcopalian not also be forced to recuse him/herself on the same issues? Actually, it goes further than that–any issue of “commitment” would force recusal. Consider the case of a vegan judge in a case involving Eckrich, for example.

  • It is curious that the matter of the Catholicism of Roger Taney was not raised. But Taney is an excellent example of accepting the law as it stands.
    He despised slavery [“those vermin who trade in human flesh”]. But he also recognized that it was lawful under the Constitution.
    Slavery is the great example that Chesterton uses tp point out that democracy is not perfect.

  • No, by the time of the Dred Scott decision Taney was an ardent defender of slavery. His views on “the peculiar institution” had done a 180 from his younger days. His opinion for the court held that slaves, or their descendants, whether or not they were slaves, could never be citizens of the United States, and that Congress did not have the power to ban slavery in the territories. Neither proposition was supported by the text of the Constitution, and are a precursor to the type of jurisprudence that produced Roe.

  • Scalia on Taney: “There comes vividly to mind a portrait by Emanuel Leutze that hangs in the Harvard Law School: Roger Brooke Taney, painted in 1859, the 82d year of his life, the 24th of his Chief Justiceship, the second after his opinion in Dred Scott. He is all in black, sitting in a shadowed red armchair, left hand resting upon a pad of paper in his lap, right hand hanging limply, almost lifelessly, beside the inner arm of the chair. He sits facing the viewer, and staring straight out. There seems to be on his face, and in his deep set eyes, an expression of profound sadness and disillusionment. Perhaps he always looked that way, even when dwelling upon the happiest of thoughts. But those of us who know how the lustre of his great Chief Justiceship came to be eclipsed by Dred Scott cannot help believing that he had that case–its already apparent consequences for the Court, and its soon to be played out consequences for the Nation–burning on his mind. I expect that two years earlier he, too, had thought himself “call[ing] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.”

  • Gabriel,
    You are wrong. Dred Scott was wrongly decided for a host of legal reasons, regardless of one’s position on slavery. Basically Taney’s reasoning was a foretaste of substantive due process, which is what eventually led the way to the loose reasoning seen in Roe. Seriously, if you are a constitutional scholar (I taught it at a law school for almost 10 years), I encourage you to carefully read Scott. It is appallingly poorly reasoned. There are cases where judges properly follow the law to make decisions that are either objectively distasteful or distasteful to them. Dred Scott is not an example of this, however.

  • Donald,
    I failed to see your earlier posts. Once again, we are in complete agreement.

  • As usual Mike! Scott is a prime example of the deadly impact a rogue Supreme Court can have on this nation. Taney and his cohorts reignited the slavery issue, convinced many moderate Northerners of a “slave power conspiracy” to spread slavery throughout the nation, strengthened Southern reluctance for any compromise as to slavery in the territories and vastly increased the likelihood that the debate over the question of slavery would eventually end in blood. When the Supreme Court steps in and attempts to act as a super legislature it always stirs up a hornet’s nest.

  • Exactly, Don. As much as I believe that our unborn should be legally protected, I similarly think it would be wrong for the Supreme Court to overturn state laws that permit abortion under some type of contrived right to to life enshrined in some penumbra. The lawmaking power rests with the people acting through their legislators; they cannot avoid this responisiblity by pretending that judges are empowered to do whatever they think is right and best. A judge’s authority is limited; Dred Scott and Roe are both testaments to what happens when he exceeds his authority just because he can.

  • About 2 years ago, I did a post about Taney, which also drew a Taney defender (who was clearly arguing from a misperception, which he later acknowledged) in the combox discussion that followed:

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2007/08/roger-taney-may-get-boot-civil-rights.html

    Catholics need to stop feeling like they have to defend Taney and his egregious, unjustifiable, and activist opinion in Dred Scott.

  • jh Says Wednesday, June 10, 2009 A.D. at 11:37 am
    “I think as to Pre- Civil War Judges that were anto Slavery they would be hard pressed to ban slavery since theire power and authority came from an agreement among the States that involved the Slavery issue. It was part of the pact as it were”.

    Which was Taney’s point. The way to settle the issue of slavery was to change the Constitution. This was done by the 13th Amendment. Thei demonstarted the truth of Taney’s argument.

  • Eric Brown Says Wednesday, June 10, 2009 A.D. at 11:57 am
    “My other concern is being complicit. Regardless of judicial philosophy, I would not rule to uphold slavery as the law of the land because it isn’t true justice”.

    There in lies the nub. Whether slavery is true justice or not, it was the law of the land, of the U.S.

    There is, it seems to me, an idea that the U.S. is a perfect land. It is not. It was not from its beginning. As Jefferson wrote “I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just”.

    Let us forget for the moment the issue of slavery. What about the ongoing treatment of the Indians in our country? the broken promises? the violated treaties?

  • Donald R. McClarey Says Wednesday, June 10, 2009 A.D. at 5:06 pm
    “No, by the time of the Dred Scott decision Taney was an ardent defender of slavery. His views on “the peculiar institution” had done a 180 from his younger days”.

    References?

  • Donald R. McClarey Says Wednesday, June 10, 2009 A.D. at 5:12 pm
    “Scalia on Taney: “There comes vividly to mind a portrait by Emanuel Leutze that hangs in the Harvard Law School: Roger Brooke Taney, painted in 1859, the 82d year of his life, the 24th of his Chief Justiceship, the second after his opinion in Dred Scott. He is all in black, sitting in a shadowed red armchair, left hand resting upon a pad of paper in his lap, right hand hanging limply, almost lifelessly, beside the inner arm of the chair. He sits facing the viewer, and staring straight out. There seems to be on his face, and in his deep set eyes, an expression of profound sadness and disillusionment. Perhaps he always looked that way, even when dwelling upon the happiest of thoughts. But those of us who know how the lustre of his great Chief Justiceship came to be eclipsed by Dred Scott cannot help believing that he had that case–its already apparent consequences for the Court, and its soon to be played out consequences for the Nation–burning on his mind. I expect that two years earlier he, too, had thought himself “call[ing] the contending sides of national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.”

    Interesting aesthetic but irrelevant [i.e., not to the point] comments by Justice Scalia. I’d suggest that Taney’s unhappiness was caused by his realization that neither side would cede; that the Constitution was a compact with the Devil.

  • Mike Petrik Says Thursday, June 11, 2009 A.D. at 6:48 am
    “Gabriel,
    “You are wrong. Dred Scott was wrongly decided for a host of legal reasons, regardless of one’s position on slavery”.

    Is this an example of the third manner of presenting an argument – bang on the desk?

    Much of the decision’s argument arises from the nature of legal property. Blacks were property, chattel, cattle, if you prefer, that could freely be moved from one state to another. The Dred Scott decision was the bearer of the bad news. Our polity is not the Heavenly City.

  • Donald R. McClarey Says Thursday, June 11, 2009 A.D. at 7:08 am

    “Taney and his cohorts reignited the slavery issue”.

    Not true. The issue of the Civil War was the Union. Could a state secede?

    [I like “cohorts”. Is this akin to fellow conspirators?].

  • Jay Anderson Says Thursday, June 11, 2009 A.D. at 10:48 am
    “About 2 years ago, I did a post about Taney, which also drew a Taney defender (who was clearly arguing from a misperception, which he later acknowledged) in the combox discussion that followed:
    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2007/08/roger-taney-may-get-boot-civil-rights.html
    Catholics need to stop feeling like they have to defend Taney and his egregious, unjustifiable, and activist opinion in Dred Scott”.

    I do not have a belief that I must defend Roger Taney [although his attitude and actions in defense of blacks are certainly admirable, as was his refusal to abandon habeas corpus and to knuckle under to Father Abraham, the sole decider of the War].

    I do not defend the decision. I merely examine it; and find that it admirably displays the law of the land at the time. He did not find unmentioned side laws and umbras in the Constitution, as did the justices in Roe v. Wade; and the overreaching justices in Brown v. Board, kin to the overreaching justices in Plessy.

  • On the other matter of whether Catholics should recuse themselves on matters on which the Church has spoken, would this apply to matters of charitable giving, to education, to the whole host of activities in which the Church is active?

    On this principle, should men recuse themselves when an issue of women’s rights is raised? Should blacks and whites [“Caucasians”] recuse themselves in civil rights matters?

    Only in the academy could such non-sense be spoken.

  • Okay, Gabriel. Defend these 2 propositions relying solely on the text of the Constitution:

    (1) That black Americans (regardless of whether they were slaves or not) could not be citizens of the United States, and
    (2) That Congress had no power to regulate “property” in the federal territories.

  • Jay Anderson Says Thursday, June 11, 2009 A.D. at 5:57 pm
    “Okay, Gabriel. Defend these 2 propositions relying solely on the text of the Constitution:
    (1) That black Americans (regardless of whether they were slaves or not) could not be citizens of the United States, and
    (2) That Congress had no power to regulate “property” in the federal territories”.

    This is not a class room. There is a tendency among some posters to believe it is.

    Citizenship depended on the state.

    “Property” is an issue with several hundred years of dispute behind it.

    A further note: Taney in the later Booth case vigorously denied that states had the right to ignore federal laws. Curiously, the Booth case was an abolitionist arguing for secession.

  • This is not a class room. There is a tendency among some posters to believe it is.

    Gabriel:

    You have attempted on several threads on this blog over the past few months to defend Taney’s decision in Dred Scott. If you do not have the sufficient understanding of the issues surrounding the case and are thus unable or unwilling to defend Taney in a meaningful manner, then it would be best for you to bow out of the discussion.

  • Sorry, the above comment was a bit uncharitable. What I am trying to get at, Gabriel, is that we’re having a discussion (partly) about constitutional law and the manner in which Supreme Court Justices ought to approach cases. The very nature of our conversation is therefore, in a sense, “academic.”

    The questions that Jay asked are central to an understanding of the Dred Scot decision, so you can’t just shrug them off if you are going to defend the opinion that Taney wrote and to which his associates signed onto.

  • paul zummo Says Friday, June 12, 2009 A.D. at 2:42 pm
    “This is not a class room. There is a tendency among some posters to believe it is.
    Gabriel:
    You have attempted on several threads on this blog over the past few months to defend Taney’s decision in Dred Scott. If you do not have the sufficient understanding of the issues surrounding the case and are thus unable or unwilling to defend Taney in a meaningful manner, then it would be best for you to bow out of the discussion”.

    Does that mean leave the room or go stand in the corner?

  • paul zummo Says Friday, June 12, 2009 A.D. at 2:52 pm
    “Sorry, the above comment was a bit uncharitable.

    It was not uncharitable. It was dense.

    “What I am trying to get at, Gabriel, is that we’re having a discussion (partly) about constitutional law and the manner in which Supreme Court Justices ought to approach cases. The very nature of our conversation is therefore, in a sense, “academic.”

    Academic, indeed. That was my point.

    “The questions that Jay asked are central to an understanding of the Dred Scot decision, so you can’t just shrug them off if you are going to defend the opinion that Taney wrote and to which his associates signed onto”.

    You have too many “to’s” there. [Sorry, couldn’t resist].

    I have had many discussions over the years with lawyers [Eliot Richardson, for example] and professors [Bernard Schwartz, for example].

    The basic issue is not slavery; it is property. It is a good question whether Taney despised slavers or abolitionists more. I think the latter. He was a strong federal union man. Having been law clerk to the Maryland representative at the Constitutional Congress, he know how difficult it had been to form “the more perfect union”. And how easy it might be to dissolve that union.

    But … that union was not perfect. It was not, and is not, the City of God on earth. It had and has many blemishes. It took a century before the rough equality of blacks was enforced by law. Cf. Douglas Blackamon’s Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II.

    [A propos, the opinions he cited about blacks were shared by Father Abraham].

    [Another a propos: slavery is not an absolute evil, like abortion].

  • I have had many discussions over the years with lawyers [Eliot Richardson, for example] and professors [Bernard Schwartz, for example].

    Oooookay, and this is relevant how?

    As for the rest of your comment – you’re still not even addressing the issue. Supreme Court decisions aren’t matters of feelings, but rather matters of concrete law. You still have offered no concise defense of the decision, which indicates you obviously don’t even remotely understand the case.

  • Apparently if you want to be on the U.S. Supreme Court it certainly helps to be Roman Catholic (six with the new appointment) followed by some distance by the Jews, and lastly the lone protestant. http://www.adherents.com/adh_sc.html This hardly mirrors the religion membership of the population of the country, but who cares? The Supreme Court is never called upon to resolve the law and religious issues like under the first amendment or equal protection clauses. LOL Does the judicial appearance of fairness even matter in the face of political gains? LOL.
    Should the media discuss this on the Sunday talk shows? LOL

    Learning to Count Is Not a Sign of Bigotry.

    Should this be raised at this time?

    The First cannon of judicial ethics says:

    A JUDGE SHALL UPHOLD THE INDEPENDENCE AND INTEGRITY OF THE JUDICIARY, SHALL PERFORM THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE IMPARTIALLY, AND SHALL AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL OF THE JUDGE’S ACTIVITIES .
    RULE 1.01: PROMOTING CONFIDENCE IN THE JUDICIARY
    A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence,* integrity,* and impartiality* of the judiciary.

    I do not find any fault in the current nominee to the United States Supreme Court for being a woman, a Latino, for having made remarks on her qualifications as superior to the qualifications of any Caucasian. But I do find fault with her appointment violating the spirit of the first cannon of Judicial Ethics, that a judge should appear impartial. Litigants will be hesitant to turn to courts where the Justices appear stacked against them and this undermines the rule of law. Judge Sonia Sotomayor would become the sixth Roman Catholic justice on the Supreme Court. There are only nine of them, so that would mean that two thirds of the Justices, 66+%, would be Roman Catholic in a country where less that 25% of the population practices that religion. That religion predisposes its members, by life long training, faith, and in some cases, rule, to take certain positions that are likely to come up for hearing before the court. Any Appointee will not commit before they go onto the bench what position they may take in a case, but the appearance is there, however they may deny this will influence their rulings. The very appearance of six Roman Catholic Justices on the court gives the appearance to all litigants that if they appear on one side of those issues, be if choice, school prayer, school vouchers or other issues, they will not get a fair hearing. Of course, with the church’s and Popes stand on capital punishment, some might be inclined to support such a person in hopes of abolishing the death penalty. Only one Roman Catholic Justice on some of these issues has taken a position not supported by the church. I believe this is a far more important consideration than any other and should bar Judge Sotomayor from being confirmed by the Senate, no matter how good of a Judge she has been and how worthy of the position she may otherwise be. In fact, I believe it should have prompted her to decline the nomination at this time and should prompt her to withdraw. It is just not the appropriate time to appoint one more Roman Catholic to the court and preserve the diversity of the court in representing the religious views of this country. It appears to threaten the first amendment’s freedom of religion that is so much a bedrock of our society. I know these remarks are politically incorrect but feel they must be made. If you share these sentiments, please pass them on as I believe the general medial is wired not to touch this with a ten foot poll until finally forced to do so by the people.

    I made the following observations at the time of the appointment of Justice Alito in 2005 that I think are even more appropriate here.

    The following statistics are taken from Wikipedia, the free web encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States

    Take a look at the following statistics on the religious demographics of the population of the United States compared to its representation on the supreme court with the addition of Judge Alito. There is no correlation. Given that, together with the fact that at least 50% of the population is feminine and an Alito court will only provide for one female member, or just over 11% of the total court population, and it is clear that the current [Bush] administration has no intention of appointing someone to the court who may be called representative of most of the country or as moving the court to a greater parity of court membership with the population of the entire nation.

    U.S. as a Whole U.S. Supreme Court + Alito

    No Religion 15% 0%

    Christian 79.8% 78%

    Roman Catholic 25.9% 56%

    Other Christian
    54.0% 22%

    Jewish
    1.4% 22%

    Non-denominational
    1.3% 0%

    Muslim
    0.6% 0%

    Hindu
    0.5% 0%

    Buddhist
    0.4% 0%

    Unitarian 0.3% 0%

    Others
    0.7% 0%

    Percentages of Religions and no religions with no representation on the United States Supreme Court 18.8%. Percentages of population represented by Christians other than Roman Catholics that are under represented on the United States Supreme Court is 54% of the population but only about half of its members are proportionately represented. It is clear that the membership of the United States Supreme Court, if each justice should represent approximately 11% of the population, is disproportionately allocated, with the Roman Catholics exceeding their fair representation by three justices with the appointment of Judge Alito. Even if the Jews were to be said to represent all those with no religion and all other religions (something that the Muslims and Atheists might well find objectionable) they only would be entitled to two members by carving into the non Roman Catholic proportions of the Christian religions, that would appear to be entitled to almost 5 members of the court by religious demographics. Now is this fair?? Is it fair to object to the appointment of a new justice because he or she further distorts the Supreme Court’s demographic representations of the beliefs of the population of the United States. Who is the bigot??? Is the Bigot the person who supports this further distortion of the United Stats population religious demographics, or the person who says, let us look to a fair representation of the beliefs of this nation as we can given the number of members we have on the court. It is very fair and unbigoted to object to the confirmation of Justice Alito because of his religion because his appointment does not fairly represent the people of the United States, no matter what his race or political affiliation is

    This is the current religious line up of members of the Supreme Court if the appointment of Justice Alito is confirmed.

    John Roberts (Chief Justice): Catholic
    Stephen G. Breyer: Jewish
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Jewish
    Anthony M. Kennedy: Catholic
    Antonin Scalia: Catholic
    David H. Souter: Episcopalian
    John Paul Stevens: Protestant
    Clarence Thomas: Catholic
    Samuel Alito: Catholic

    Supreme Court of the United States, highest court in the United States and the chief authority in the judicial branch, one of three branches of the United States federal government. The Supreme Court hears appeals from decisions of lower federal courts and state supreme courts, and it resolves issues of constitutional and federal law. It stands as the ultimate authority in constitutional interpretation, and its decisions can be changed only by a constitutional amendment.

    Nine judges sit on the Court; the chief justice of the United States and eight associate justices. The president of the United States appoints them to the Court for life terms, but the U.S. Senate must approve each appointment with a majority vote.

    The Supreme Court’s most important responsibility is to decide cases that raise questions of constitutional interpretation. The Court decides if a law or government action violates the Constitution. This power, known as judicial review, enables the Court to invalidate both federal and state laws when they conflict with its interpretation of the Constitution. Judicial review thus puts the Supreme Court in a pivotal role in the American political system, making it the referee in disputes among various branches of government, and as the ultimate authority for many of the most important issues in the country. In 1954, for example, the Court banned racial segregation in public schools in Brown v. Board of Education. The ruling started a long process of desegregating schools and many other aspects of American society. In the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, the Court overturned state prohibitions on abortion—concluding that the Constitution guarantees every woman a right to choose an abortion, at least during early stages of a pregnancy. The Court’s constitutional decisions have affected virtually every area of American life, from the basic ways in which business and the economy are regulated to freedom of speech and religion.

    The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of all the rules and decisions of the lower Federal courts, the United States District Courts and the Courts of Appeal. All judges look up to these judges. They are the featured speakers in the lucky law schools around the country who can persuade them to visit. The Court, outside of governmental clemency hearings and pardons, is just about the last arbiter on all death penalty cases in the Unite States. The judges are assisted by law clerks, a job that lasts about a year and a position once held, leads to the most prestigious choice of jobs in private practice and government after the clerk finishes his or her clerkship. A long term Justice may appoint 30 to 50 law clerks over the period they are on the bench, thirty to fifty or perhaps even more of the future leaders of the bar, the attorneys, in the United States. These are the people who handle the most influential governmental and private legal matters, may influence the various judicial appointments, making up many of the future judges (The most recent appointment as Chief Justice, John Roberts, besides formerly being a Judge on the Court of Appeals and high civil servant in the Executive branch of the government, was the law clerk of the former Chief Justice). These people set the tone of administration of justice in the United States not only in Constitutional Law, but in all federal law, which includes being the final arbiters in many, perhaps most disputes between citizens of different states and citizens and foreigners, matters concerning foreign and interstate commerce, trademarks, patents, copyrights, Federal taxes customs and duties, Indian (Native American) affairs, laws covering most securities and national banking, and many taxation matters and disputes between the states, such as boundary and water rights, just to name a few example. These are the people who apply or do not apply the law that may or may not be favorable depending on which side may win or loose in the courts. Their decisions dictate how future contracts will be drawn, how businesses will operate to comply with laws, and have an impact on the operation of every other governmental body in the United States. They are the interpreters of these laws as well as occasionally passing on constitutional questions. So you see, the power of the members of this court, while circumscribed as are supposedly the powers of all elected and appointed governmental officials in the United States, is enormous. They can only be removed by impeachment (like an indictment) by the House of Representatives followed by a trial and conviction by the Senate, a very seldom ever used procedure.

    Why doesn’t the media honestly report this very reasonable and certainly not bigoted objection to Judge Alito? We do not ask any one to abandon his or her conscience when accepting an appointment to the Supreme Court, and we should suspect any appointee who infers or promises to set his or her conscience aside when acting as a judge on this body. There are nine justices so we can be assured of a diversity of opinion while each exercises his or her conscience in interpreting, understanding and applying the law to individual cases before the court. We should work to preserve that diversity, fair parity and honesty in representation in that branch of the United States Government. The constitution is capable of many interpretations, as any honest student of history who has read the notes of the Federal Convention, the Federalist papers and the various Anti-federalist papers well knows. We may often not really fathom the original intent of the law as much of the Constitution was a compromise. The words strict construction is a coded political cry that has little to do with reality. what may be a strict construction in the eyes of one will be the most ghastly ;legislation form the bench in the eyes of others. We must go back to the very moral fiber as well as intellectual acumen of the nominees who are to sit on the bench, and their affiliations, including their religious affiliations, as they help us to achieve some parity on the court, are fair considerations for all of us and absolutely necessary consideration for each and every senator who must vote on the nominees and then go back to their constituents and tell them why they voted to confirm lopsided courts by race, gender, ethnicity or religion. No Senator can pass this test and vote to confirm Judge Alito.

    Ed Campbell.

    You may freely share this opinion. Afterthought:

    One would have expected a sensitive Judge would have anticipated this reasonable objection to more roman Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court at this time and would had declined the appointment for the good of the nation.

  • You may freely share this opinion.

    Only if one wants to seem vaguely unhinged.

    Have you been keeping this standard text going for three Supreme Court nominations, now?

  • Ed’s comment reads like comment spam, and I assume it has been posted at quite a few venues. By the way Ed, in regard to the phrase “First Cannon of Judicial Ethics” in your comment, I assume the word should be “Canon” and not “Cannon” unless there are judicial ethics rules that apply to the use of artillery pieces.

    Are you the same Ed Campbell out in Seattle who is an attorney and does palm reading?

    http://www.edcampbell.com/

    That is a unique combination to be sure! Perhaps some of the Catholic justices on the court are palm readers too? Would that cast a different light on the situation?

    Catholics come in all different shapes, sizes and ideologies as you would quickly find out by reading this blog and then reading the blog Vox Nova. So relax. We Catholics on or off the Court pose no threat to you, unless we are albino assassins, in which case all bets are off.

Sotomayor, No Content Of Character Here

Thursday, June 4, AD 2009

Sotomayor Racism

Imagine a white male conservative making the same comments that Judge Sonia Sotomayor made:

A wise White man with his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina female,”

The mainstream media (old media) would have a field day recounting how racist Republicans are.  It would be nonstop media coverage not seen since Trent Lott’s infamous statements.

Now here are Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s comments.  Keep in mind that when she said these comments that she was dead serious:

A wise Latina woman with her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male,”

Continue reading...

15 Responses to Sotomayor, No Content Of Character Here

  • A wise woman will more often than not reach a better conclusion than most males.

  • Gabriel,

    A wise woman will more often than not reach a better conclusion than most males.

    and conversly a wise man will more often than not reach a better conclusion than most females.

    Now, to be clear, we’re talking about the proper understanding of “wise”. Here’s another thoughts:

    An “educated” man or woman will more often than not reach a worse conclusion than most anybody.

  • Gabriel,
    Indeed, but a “learned” person has a better chance of becoming a “wise” person than most.

  • Mike Petrik,

    Indeed, but a “learned” person has a better chance of becoming a “wise” person than most.

    not typically in this day and age, maybe before the “enlightenment”.

    am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.
    — William F. Buckley

  • Matt,
    I intended my post as a response to yours, and without getting into the relevance of the so-called enlightenment, my point was to distinguish the “learned” from the “educated.” I suspect you would agree with that point, properly understood.

  • Sorry Mike, I though you were equating learned with education. So if you agree that the 2000 professors of Harvard are neither wise, nor learned no matter how educated they are, then we’re on the same page.

  • At the risk of being accused of making sweeping generalizations, I agree completely — at least in principle.

  • Imagine a white conservative saying: “A wise Italian woman with her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male.”

    I doubt there would’ve been much protest.

    I’m not very familiar with La Raza. How many whites have they lynched?

  • –Imagine a white conservative saying: “A wise Italian woman with her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male.”

    May I then in the same spirit nominate my wise grandmother for the USSC. She’s an Indian fisherwoman but (per Asimov) as indeed all grandmothers, is in fact Jewish.

  • RR,

    If you ever read anything from La Raza you would be appalled at the literature out there.

    As far as I can recollect, I haven’t read any Italian-American literature calling for the annexation of the eastern United States to Italy and calling themselves the Master Race.

  • I have no love in my Hispanic heart for La Raza, MEChA, et al. I also am not naive about the meaning of identity politics, in particular Affirmative Action (see my recent post at Vox-Nova: http://vox-nova.com/2009/06/02/experiencing-affirmative-action/).

    Add to that, I do not know Sotomayor or what she meant by this statement. Having said that, none of us “know” her intentions or the meaning of her language here.

    The point where I dispute this post (and others like it) is that there is only one meaning to her statement. There is a connotation of racism, to be had, for sure.

    However, I think that there is also another meaning that is hardly controversial, albeit politically incorrect. Namely, that the our life experiences shape our ability to interpret the world, in this case, the law.

    This is why a Catholic perspective, to me, is a richer view to look at thing with when compared to narrower views–for this very reason I supported the nominations of Alito and Roberts, and was deeply criticized for it.

    So, while lumping in the implication that she is racist may still be a possible way to interpret what she said and her affiliations with the organization that smack of supremacy (although for complex, yet still misguided in my mind, reasons) are troubling, there is no reason to think that this interpretation has some kind of monopoly over the possible meaning of her words.

    Perhaps I am wrong, but the content and tone of this post suggests that this is the “real,” “only” way to see her comments. And that clearly seems to be untrue.

  • Sam,

    The context of the post is very limited, for that matter all posts are, since it can be difficult to understand the context of where the person is coming from as well as the words themselves.

    With that said, a lot of people in La Raza and MEChA as well, can be discerned as well meaning. Just as those that may have joined the Nazi party in the Weimer Republic of the 1930s.

    I.E., not all people are bad by association.

    With that said, considering the educational and intellectual background of Miss Sonia Sotomayor, it can be construed as a very poor judgement on her part for being affiliated with such organizations. As well as her work in college for calling for Puerto Rican independence.

    For all we know, she may well be a very patriotic American and is embarressed by her poor choice of words. Unfortunately she does not have the character to admit the errors of her way since she is determined to be a Supreme Court Justice.

    If she were to recant and be apologetic, I would certainly be one of the very first to accept it and maybe even accept her as a Supreme Court Justice, but her admitting her mistakes is not part of her character. Sadly. She is of this world and not Christs.

    I am beyond “ethnic” politics, at least I think so. If the nominee were of “Latino” ethnicity but of a practicing Catholic, I would be celebrating the fact that she is Catholic. Not that she is “Latino”.

    I have no doubt that she will be confirmed, regardless of her less than stellar career as a district judge, since it seems to guilty white liberals that ethnicity and empathy trump experience and character.

    My posting was basically for historical posterity. So when people look back and see the baffling and poor writing of Miss Sonia Sotomayor, they will see why she was placed on the bench.

    Simply because of the color of her skin and her gender. Not because she was qualified.

  • Tito, thanks for acknowledging the limits here. But even given the limitations you mention, I don’t understand the meaning of many of the words you are using (e.g. liberal, the problem with PR independence, belonging to the world vs. Christ) and the concepts that follow.

    The biggest problem, however, is that you seem to have missed a major consequence of my comment. Namely, that your interpretation of Sotomayor here, posted for posterity, could in fact be completely wrong. Which would mean she would have no reason to apologize int eh first place. Instead, she would only have to say what she meant in a way that a bit more clear.

    So, the needed apology would only be if you are right here, but—and this was my point—you may be quite wrong and neither one of us can possibly know that for sure. But, while you say you have serious limits, being wrong isn’t really one of them here.

    No, my point is not saying that guilt by association is true (of course it isn’t), it is saying that, given what she said, there are other possible interpretation that should keep our decisions on the matter (i.e. what she said) open ended for now.

    There is a decidedly partisan tone to your argument, as I read it, that seems to prevent you from granting that limitation. Without doing so, I fear you are simply asserting something as plausible for your cause as the other are plausible for the other side of the aisle. My point is this: both sides are bankrupt, we do much better thinking free from them, and, if we do, then, we cannot say the things you are saying here or the other side is saying there—you are both wrong, for now.

  • Forgive the grammar and misspellings, I think the basic ideas are still intelligible, though.

  • Sam,

    I respectfully disagree with your sentiments.

    I am not a registered Republican and have rightfully castigated people such as Rudy Guiliani and Sean Hannity for being less than truthful in their faith.

    I am a history buff and always take care with what I write knowing that history will prove me right in the end (at least I think so). In addition, you pointing out the fact that this is an opinion is like accusing the President of being partisan. Of course it is my opinion, that is why I wrote this piece.

    I do presume, based on the mountain of information that I have, especially since I feel that I am a patriotic American and disavow all calls for the dissolution of union when it comes to Puerto Rico. If Miss Sotomayor would apologize for her un-American statements in supporting anarchy and her racist remarks, then I would be supportive.

    But considering her lack of faith and her lack of character, I highly doubt this will occur. Though I would be happy to be corrected here.

    Grammar and misspellings are easily forgiven. Please forgive me as well for the same.

    For posterity’s sake, I opine that history will judge Miss Sotomayor harshly. May she return to her faith and find solace in the Lord with His mercy so she can deal with the shame and rightful scorn that will be placed upon her during her time (assuming she gets confirmed) as a Supreme Court Justice.

This Is Not One To Fight

Wednesday, May 27, AD 2009

The protests around Obama’s honorary degree from Notre Dame University had many of the more politically progressive Catholic voices complaining that pro-life advocates had moved into a practice of loudly protesting absolutely everything that seemed vaguely positive for Obama without regard for whether it was an important issue.  As someone who cares about the integrity of Catholic education, I think they were wrong in regards to Notre Dame’s decision to give Obama an honorary law degree — it was a big deal and it was appropriate to decry the choice.

However, I think that Jay Anderson and Feddie are right in making the case that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is not something that pro-life groups should be knocking themselves out to contest.

Given how early it is in his presidency and how high his political approval ratings are, Obama could have decided to spend political capital and put a top notch, liberal intellectual ideologue on the court who could work to shift the balance strongly to the left. Instead, he made the fairly bland, identify politics “first” pick which had been conventional wisdom in Democratic circles for some time, despite the doubts of those who wanted to see a more intellectual and ideological pick. As pro-lifers, we certainly don’t need to praise this pick. She is doubtless pro-choice and will work to support Roe and other Culture of Death decisions. But we also don’t need to pick this to raise a stink over. She will be confirmed regardless, given the composition of the senate, and if we can both conserve our political energy and provide Obama with some positive reinforcement that sticking to bland conventional wisdom candidates will be rewarded with a lack of partisan rancor, so much the better.

Again, I’m not saying that pro-lifers need to praise or support Sotomayor, but Obama could have stuck it to us a lot worse — and since kicking a fuss will achieve nothing other than encouraging the administration to play only to their base next time with a strictly ideological pick (and win the pro-life movement more of a reputation for constant shrillness) this would be a good time for us to hold our fire and concentrate on other things, like the next crop of pro-life candidates.

Continue reading...

12 Responses to This Is Not One To Fight

  • Agreed. There doesn’t seem to be much point to fighting this one… and besides, he will likely have 1-2 more opportunities to change the court. Maybe even 3 if Obama wins a second term.

    On the other hand, Sotomayor is just one more list in a long line if judges, both conservative and liberal that typically rule in favor of the state, but that is a larger philosophical debate that has long been forgotten.

  • She needs to be fully vetted. I oppose any attempt to rush this through. From a conservative viewpoint we need to use this as an opportunity for Public Education

    Plus there are large areas where she has been silent on. Such as National Secuirity concerns etc

    Also this points out the talking point that Demcorats and Republicans are all the same is sort of silly.

    Election has hve consuqunces

    However I agree there is not need to go out on this. Especially since we need to be looking to the future and preserving or forming a new bipartisan gang of 14 if the Republicans get back the WHite House in 2012

  • “… encourage the administration to play only to their base … with a strictly ideological prick …”

    Never was a typo filled with so much truth.

    😉

  • You have pointed out one of my primary concerns when you discuss the shrillness of pro-life groups on this pick.

    There is a real risk of “Boy Who Cried Wolf” Syndrome. If pro-lifers cry “WOLF!” over this fairly conventional (albeit liberal) pick, despite the fact that there is nothing in her record to paint her as some sort of radical ideologue on abortion, then no one will take us seriously when a REAL radical ideologue with the intellectual heft to shape the Court – say, Diane Wood – comes along as Obama’s next pick.

  • “Also this points out the talking point that Demcorats and Republicans are all the same is sort of silly.

    Election has hve consuqunces”

    They do have consequences… except that the consequences are all too often exactly the same with both political wings.

  • ANthony

    As to the Court I am not sure how the Consequences are the same

    There is world of difference between lets say an Alito and the current nominee. Heck while many people pile on Kennedy he is no Ginsburg

  • She needs to be fully vetted. I oppose any attempt to rush this through. From a conservative viewpoint we need to use this as an opportunity for Public Education

    I agree 100%, the efforts should be focused demonstrating on the error of the liberal approach to jurisprudence which is very unpopular (activism), and the inherent racism of the liberal worldview.

    They should question her in ways to bring out all of the beliefs about the Constitution that separate liberals from mainstream Americans including the right to abortion, but avoid any sort of reaction, and especially avoid anything resembling a personal attack.

    I don’t think that the Republicans should support her nomination at all though, they should vote against her but no extraordinary or obstructive measures. As you said, focus on a teachable moment.

  • I suspect politicians make bad teachers, especially in public disputes. Their reported comments will be reduced to soundbites not of their choosing. And how much can you teach in a soundbite?

    Movement pro-lifers often wait for political or cultural events to do their thing.

    I don’t think political events teach well. Some Colorado pro-lifers thought a Personhood Amendment would be a great way to educate about the embryo. But politics’ adversarial nature makes lots of people wary and unreceptive.

    Roe can’t be overturned without major public figures prepping the country for a post-Roe world. But are politicians those public figures?

  • Unfortunately I think Kevin’s right. Add to that the fact that the media will distort whatever pro-life message is being taught. All at the same time presenting Sotomayor as a persecuted woman with a “compelling story.” No way to win. But that’s the way it generally is.

  • The one big problem with Sotomayor is that she may not be competent to be on the court:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/05/sotomayor_overturned_60_of_the.html

  • Phillip,

    I think if the confirmation questions are carefully written without any negativity, just asking her to explain her beliefs and judicial philosophy it should not backfire.

    As to her “competence” clearly all of the liberal sitting justices lack any proper understanding of the separation of powers, so whatever her shortcomings she is in good company.

  • I don’t know. The well written questions won’t be reported by the media or distorted. But perhaps with blogs they can be reported.

    How about we bet a beer on it?